"East Europe 2005-06" story # 35

Lausanne, Switzerland           April 17, 2006

A man named Revocat drove me to Lausanne, Switzerland. At first, I thought he had the coolest name. It suggested he was a silver-armor-wearing, half-man/half-cougar, boily-tempered character on my favorite childhood tv show The Thundercats.
     "Revocat" was actually his surname. Unfortunately, when he told me his first name, it off-set the cool-nosity of his last: it was Gatsigaz. He was a black-skinned Rwandan, now working as an assistant high school chemistry teacher. He'd come to Switzerland as a refugee. Maybe he'd been trying to escape his first name.
     Sorry. Revocat and I stopped at Mumra's tomb to spoil Mumra's wicked plans to take over the Thundercat lair, and then Gatsigaz dropped me off in beautiful downtown Lausanne. The enormous gothic library was my prettiest building; even if it doesn't have two heavy eagle statues preying before its front doors, it does in my memory.
     As in the land of the Gatsigaz's, the people speak French in Lausanne. And it was a beautiful sunny day. Lausanne mixed old cathedral architecture upon crowded hills, with modern buildings, on small-town walkable streets, with inviting parks scattered about. Some of these parks sat beside the great Lac (Lake) Leman.
     Swans swam on the cold crunchy-blue lake, and snow-hatted mountains peered at us curiously from the opposite side in France. People in the parks skateboarded, played guitar and sang, roller-bladed with their dogs, romanced, read, slept, ate ice cream, talked, and met new people. I loved French this day. Speaking with bus drivers, asking directions ... I just love the beautiful language and its people too. Everyone should learn French in his life.
     The bus-drivers helped me get to the apartment of a college friend. Little but long Ricarda Daniela "Johnny" Hirsiger sat small on her big couch. Her ponytail and blond attitude were bouncy and self-assertive, and her little Swiss face chirped and laughed excitedly.
     She'd joined me for "Date of the Week" VII back in the U.S.A., during which I cooked her fajitas, which had become American cuisine when restaurant Taco Bell (formerly Liver & Onion Bell) made a historic trade with Mexico's department of international food relations. So, now it was Johnny's turn to cook.
     She's actually from the German part of Switzerland, I must say. She cooked us a steak with spicy brown sauce on it, mmm! and "spaetzli", or something, wormy noodles made of flour and sugar and salt. Johnny was a fun great host, and it was nice to feel comfortable and open with her.
     The next day, while Johnny worked, I wrote, ate Toblerone chocolates which could be found in bowls in almost every room of her apartment, and searched Lausanne with Johnny's camera for the BEST SWITZERLAND PHOTO. (My mom has a photo album into which she places only one photo from each country our family visits.)
     It was an ugly grey day, this April 5th. Damp snow fell in the old street as I watched a long stout British-style apartment building with a faded grape-purple facade.
     A poster advertised a coming anti-racist, anti-Fascist political rally with a cartoon character who gave the middle finger and exclaimed, "On vous dit, "MERDE!" (We call you, "SHIT!") Johnny and I would later enjoy the photo of that.
     At night, Johnny looked at some of my older photos. She admired pictures from Auschwitz, Poland under snow, and then the following picture was of me doing a snowboarding jump.
     "You were snowboarding in Auschwitz!!!?"
     Of course I hadn't. Those were two different days, Johnny.
     She once again made a great Swiss dinner. She cooked two rich bratwursts in a pan and a potato-ey fingery food in a pot. The bratwurst was tender with a syrupy juice-nosity, and the potato-ey things were like wormy french fry insides without the grease. In my memory, those potato-ey things don't have a name, so I'll call them "flubble."
     The next morning, Johnny went early to work. I left my Swiss-German friend and headed for the Swiss-French road. It was cold until the sun came up, and no cars took me for a while, but I didn't stress.
     The French drivers looked me in the eye, smiled at and waved to me, and wishe me, "Bonne chance!" (Good luck!) Their cars were also shiny, but these people were warm. I loved being amidst the French. I'd get a ride soon enough.

- peace, and "Snarf!"
Modern Oddyseus

Thanks to Gatsigaz Revocat for the ride!
Much thanks to "Johnny" Hirsiger for having me visit!

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